The New York Giants have already let us know what they think of punter Brad Wing. The three-year, $6.425 million contract the Giants just gave Wing tells us they are happy enough with the 25-year-old that they want to keep him around for a while.
Let's take a closer look at Wing as we near the end of our player-by-profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2015 Season in Review
After a year in which he struggled to find consistency while punting with a severely injured left ankle (his plant foot) and eventually a back injury, the Giants gave popular punter Steve Weatherford an opportunity to show that he was once again healthy and could resume kicking as proficiently as he had during his first few seasons with the Giants. Unfortunately for Weatherford, he continued to punt the ball inconsistently throughout training camp and the preseason.
The Giants ultimately decided to move on from Weatherford, acquiring the left-footed Wing from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick. Trading for a punter might be considered an unusual move, but Wing justified GM Jerry Reese's decision by having an excellent season.
Wing isn't a bomber, he is more of a hang-time, directional punter, but he averaged a respectable 44.5 yards per punt, with a net average of 38.9 yards. Wing's specialty was dropping punts inside the 20-yard line. Thirty-three of his 76 punts (43.4 percent) were downed inside the 20. Thirteen of those were downed inside the 10-yard line. While not generally a threat to hit long, awe-inspiring punts, Wing proved adept at limiting returns. He finished eighth in the league in punts fair caught, with 21, or 27.6 percent.
When I spoke to Wing during the 2015 season, he said his job was simple."Eliminate return man" as much as possible.
"The whole thing that I'm trying to do is just eliminate return man. That's everybody on the punt team. We just want to take their returners out of the game, that's the main focus," Wing said. "You don't want to hit an 80-yard punt and have it run back 50. That's kind of pointless. It's finding a good balance in between and just letting the guys go hunt."
Wing also smoothly transitioned into holding for Giants' placekicker Josh Brown.
2016 Season Outlook
Wing did good work in 2015. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn saw signs in the spring that Wing might be even better going forward.
"He is better directionally than he was," Quinn said. "He is doing more things with the ball coming off of his foot, so I have been very pleased with what he has done this spring, he has been very solid."
During my conversation last season with Wing, it was obvious he understands there is more to punting than just blasting the ball down the field.
"Direction and hang time, they are areas of my game that I have spent a lot of time on over the past couple of years.""It's not just standing back there and punting the ball down the field. There's some times where the punt may require a little more hang time or a little more direction. Not every situation requires the same punt. You have to have a bag of tricks, just be able to deliver different types of punts in the situation of the game whether it be a short punt from midfield or a backed up punt coming out of the end zone.
"You have to hit different punts to get a good result."
Perhaps there are a few more of these in his -- and the Giants -- future.